'Tis the time for season previews. The Chronicle has one, the Mercury News has one, and even the Wall Street Journal has one with brilliantly selected Giants commentary. And while you could sift through the Google search results for 2009 NL West predictions, you could save time by reading this synopsis a few dozen times:
Manny Ramirez or the Diamondbacks pitching is a GAME CHANGER.
2. Dodgers or Diamondbacks
The Dodgers' rotation or the Diamondbacks' offense isn't strong enough to hold off the GAME CHANGER.
3. Rockies or Giants
The Rockies can hit. The Giants can pitch
4. Giants or Rockies
The Giants can pitch. The Rockies can hit.
The worst parts of the Giants and Rockies, waltzing and humming as they slowly descend into an inferno with 162 rings.
Don't blame me, Padres fans. That exact sentence just happened to appear in 85% of the NL West previews. Look it up.
My past predictions have been hit or miss. Not awful in 2008, good but for the Rockies in 2007, and solid but for those rascally Giants in 2006. But have I ever mentioned that I picked the Tigers to win their division in 2006? I don't think I have. I was the only prognosticator in the world to do so. Look it up. I think I'll make a point to mention that prediction more often.
My NL West predictions:
1. Diamondbacks - 93-69
Their rotation might be the best in the NL; it's certainly top three. And either Justin Upton or Chris Young will go super-goofy on the league, while one of Stephen Drew or Conor Jackson will go semi-goofy, so any predictions for another dismal offensive season will be off.
2. Giants - 83-79
I know, I know. This is pretty much a homer fanboy leap of faith -- and the fact that I need to qualify a predicted record that's barely over .500 says a lot -- but I believe in the top four of the rotation, I believe in the bullpen additions, and I believe that a full season of Pablo Sandoval and Not Brimar Vizcock will help the offense.
3. Dodgers - 81-81
Manny, Orlando Hudson, and Rafael Furcal combine for 162 games, Matt Kemp and James Loney don't get much better, and the rotation is a nightmare. Please? If the Dodgers stay healthy, their lineup is well balanced and without a gaping hole. It's just hard to predict a division title for a team counting on a 21-year-old as their second starter. Chad Billingsley's a heck of a pitcher, albeit evil, and Hideki Kuroda is solid, but I could see the Dodgers panicking about their rotation early and often.
4. Rockies - 80-82
Before Jeff Francis went down, I thought the lefty would rebound and the Rockies might be a surprise contender. Whoops. Even without Matt Holliday, the Rockies have a lot of offense, but after Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jimenez, the starting pitching is kind of appalling. Jorge De La Rosa's increased K/9 might be for real, but Jason Marquis is a ridiculously poor fit for Coors.
5. Padres - 59-103
Jake Peavy? Wow, sure. Adrian Gonzalez? A beast. Kevin Correia, fourth starter? Uh.... Luis Rodriguez? Wait, he's that guy who's like Brian Bocock without the defense, right? I just can't get over this roster, and it will look even worse when Peavy and Gonzalez are Angels in July.
Comment starter: Your predictions, if you would....